April 29, 2010


I did a research paper and presentation on Stevia for a Food Chemistry class over a decade ago. I was so impressed with Stevia (on paper) as a natural sweetener. Something so good seemed to good to be true and in a sense this is true. I have yet to stumble across truly yummy, doable recipes using Stevia. I have, however, become remotivated about attempting to use Stevia after buying the fully revised & updated book by Rebecca Wood titled, "The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia". Here is what Ms. Woods has to say about Stevia:
"Imagine a healthful herb that is 30 times sweeter than sugar, nonnutritive, and essentially noncaloric. Stevia, which the Guarani Indians of Paraguay call caa-hee, is such a plant. Its leaves and flower buds contain two glucosides that are 200 and 300 times, respectively, sweeter than sucrose and which cannot be metabolized in the human digestive system. Stevia is a member of the daisy family."

I will continue to give Stevia a chance and I'll be sure to pass on any amazing, sugar-free, Stevia sweetened recipes I try. (I am being hopeful)

I typically buy the white powdered form of Stevia. You can find it in the health section of your grocery store or at your local nutrition store. It isn't very expensive and it goes a long way. I have also purchased the stevia sweetened chocolate extract, but I have to experiment with it more. Maybe it'll make some great hot chocolate this winter! I'll let you know.

(Quick note: I might have to pull out my herbology book and argue the fact that Stevia is nonnutritive. Using this word to describe Stevia (or any herb) is kind of bugging me, but that is for another blog post. :))

April 25, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

Complements: Family Circle September 2009

5 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop out pulp from 8 zucchini halves; set aside. Arannge zucchini halves on baking sheet. Meanwhile, coarsely chop remaining zucchini and pulp. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook chopped zucchini and oniln, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Add red pepper, garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute; cool slightly. Evenly spoon vegetable mixture into zucchini halves. Top with cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until tender. You may want to try them on the bbq too. Enjoy!
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April 22, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cake (vegan and gluten-free)

I am baking up a storm with my new "Flying Apron" cookbook :). We are not vegans and we do not have gluten allergies in our household, but this recipe will become our "go to" recipe from now on for chocolate cupcakes! They are excellent and most of all I am loving the ingredients.

1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup garbanzo bean or chestnut flour, sifted
1 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 cups water
2 cups maple syrup (or 1/2 maple syrup and 1/2 honey or agave)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper (or just oil them up well). If you are doing cupcakes you'll need 25 lined cupcake tins. Set aside. combine the brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, combine the olive oil, water and maple syrup. Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the olive oil mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until the cake springs bake when you press the center with your finger, about 25 minutes for cake and about 15 minutes for cupcakes. Let them cool completely before eating. We ate them unfrosted with fruit on the side for a snack :). I also made some to take somewhere and I frosted them. Below you will find my all time wonderful frosting recipe (I use for it for sugar cookies too). I also posted the "Flying Apron" vegan vanilla frosting recipe. Enjoy!

Vanilla-Cream Frosting: (You might want to double or triple the recipe)

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all ingredients until smooth.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting:
2 cups oil
6 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil and powdered sugar until soft. With the mixer on low speed, add the salt, boiling water, agave syrup and vanilla. Continue to beat, scarping the sides of the bowl occasionally, until smooth and fluffy. To achieve the desired consistency, turn the mixer to high speed for 2-3 minutes. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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April 21, 2010

Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

This makes a great snack for kids. They are getting good protein (garbanzo bean flour), healthy fats (safflower oil) and an alternative to wheat (brown rice flour). Also, who would pass up a "cookie" filled with chocolate. Chocolate happens to be full of healthy flavanoids, oleic acid (raises good cholesterol) and phenyl ethylamine (a mood enhancer) just to name a few benefits of chocolate. (Always choose dark chocolate for less sugar!)

Complements: Flying Apron

2 3/4 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon garbanzo bean flour (found in most health food stores or Fred Meyers carries Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup safflower oil (the recipe calls for canola oil, but I lean towards a safflower oil as the better of the two vegetable oils)
1 cup organic whole cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rice milk
1 cup (8 ounce) dairy-free dark chocolate chips (of course you can use any kind you want if you aren't vegan or dairy sensitive)
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional, but adding nuts increases the protein and good fats so highly recommended)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, cane sugar and vanilla until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and rice milk alternately, a little at a time, until smooth, about 3 minutes (this really helps the garbanzo been flour blend in too, my opinion :)). Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Scoop the dough onto cookie sheet. Bake until golden and slightly firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. These are excellent. Enjoy!
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April 20, 2010

Flying Apron

The "Flying Apron" is a gluten-free and vegan bakery in Seattle Washington (Ballard neighborhood to be more exact). It is one of a kind! The "Flying Apron" has finally published a cookbook with all their wonderful recipes! I picked up the cookbook last week and I can't bake the recipes fast enough.

So here is a little plug for "Flying Apron" by Jennifer Katzinger (her and her father opened the bakery back in 2002). If you are on a gluten-free diet, if you are vegan or if you just like to switch up your diet on a daily basis by using various flours and sweeteners (this would be our families reason ;)) then this cookbook is a must for your kitchen library! (I got it for $14 bucks at Costco)

I'll be sure to post the recipes on my blog as I slowly make my way through these original and exciting gluten-free and vegan recipes.

April 8, 2010

Basic Brown Rice Flour Cookies

I can't encourage you enough to bake with various grains! These are simple and the brown rice flour is a wonderful change from whole wheat pastry flour. Because brown rice does not have gluten the tapioca flour is added to help in the binding of the dough. Tapioca flour is a starch derived from cassava root. I love the texture it adds to baked goods. You can find tapioca flour in health food stores or in most grocery stores in their "natural food" section. It is fairly inexpensive. Go out on a limb and give these cookies a try. I believe you will NOT be disappointed. Kids will gobble these up without a second thought (especially if chocolate is added). They make a healthy snack and almost guilt-free!

1 14 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tapioca flour
1/2 cup nuts, oven roasted and ground into a powder (place nuts (I used pecans and almonds) on baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Remove nuts and place in a small blender (I use our Magic Bullet) and grind into a powder)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup oil of choice (I used 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons of safflower oil)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
chocolate chips to your liking (optional, but necessary in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients. Combine all the wet ingredients. Combine the wet with the dry, mix. Drop the dough by the tablespoon on to a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or slightly longer for a crispier cookie. Enjoy!

Note: This last time I made this recipe (the batch pictured above) I realized I only had 1/2 cup of brown rice flour left. So I added 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup millet flour, 1/4 cup oat flour and 1/4 cup kamut flour (I love combining flours!). The cookies were delicious. You really can't go to wrong when you have a good recipe in the first place.
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April 5, 2010

Baked Rice Pudding

This would qualify as a comfort food!

3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup dried cherries or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, vanilla and rice over medium heat and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, honey and cinnamon. When the milk/cream mixture comes to a simmer, add a ladleful to the egg/sugar mixture and whisk to temper the eggs and bring up the temperature so they don't curdle when added back to the hot milk. Add another ladle or two of the milk mixture and continue to whisk. Turn the heat off and slowly add the tempered egg mixture back to the pot of warm milk/cream/rice. Stir to combine. Add the dried cherries or raisins and stir to combines. Pour the rice mixture into the casserole dish and place in preheated oven, uncovered. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skin forms on the top of the pudding and the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Allow to cool a little and serve warm. Mine was a bit runny after 20 minutes so I turned off the oven and let it rest another 20 minutes or so in the turned off oven. You can also cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, for several hours or overnight. Enjoy!
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April 2, 2010

Crockpot Refried Beans

Complements: www.realmomkitchen.blogspot.com

3 cups dry pinto beans (I used 1/2 pinto beans and 1/2 black beans)
1 onion, diced
9 cups of water
1 3/4 teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for about 8 hours. After they are done, drain all of the liquid out and save the liquid. Mash beans with a potato masher (I used a blender). Add liquid, a bit at a time, to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. I also added a few tablespoons of sour cream. Enjoy!
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